Audio Mastering refers to taking the final mix of a song which has been recorded and mixed to get the levels where the artist or producer wants them to be with all of the other effects already put on. Once everything sounds exactly how the artist wants, that single track is then handed over to the mastering engineer.
The mastering engineer then uses analog and or digital effects such as EQ/equalization, reverb, or compression to improve the aural quality of that song as far as it will go. While mastering is certainly not necessary, most artists, including virtually all artists signed to labels, have their music mastered as the final step of audio production.
Mastering is like the finishing glossy touch to really bring out the full potential of a song and a good mastering job will significantly step up the quality of the audio and deliver a much more professional sounding final product to your fans.
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